Deonetti’s Lunch (Writer’s Weekly contest winner)
Tess had been pear-shaped all her life. She had tried every fad diet from eating nothing but hotdogs to only eating foods beginning with the letter “O”. She even hired a personal trainer who clad himself in spandex and was fond of the phrase, “Increase the intensity,” but the pounds always crept back.
This time was different. Thanks to the Atkins’ diet and all the smoked Gouda she could eat, Tess was the lightest she had ever been. She tossed back auburn curls and slid into tailored trousers. Tess had big plans. She wanted to be in charge of her own account at the ad agency where she had spent the past seven years waddling the halls as an executive assistant. If this meeting went well, she had a real shot.
She wrinkled her brow as she slid her feet into patent-leather heels and thought back to the previous week and a conversation with her boss, Leon Deonetti. Tess had spent the better part of a month putting together his proposal for a huge new account; however, on her own time, she had worked on a second plan–an edgier, less conservative version of what her boss intended to present. Despite her effort, her enthusiasm was crushed when Deonetti slaughtered her work.
“This idea is cute, but I’ve been involved from the ground up on the Dean account. My plan is the one we’re moving forward on. You ought to take this home. Wouldn’t want it to get mixed up with the real proposal.”
Then he threw in words like inexperienced and naïve. Tess left his office deflated.
Never mind that Leon hated her idea. Tess’s weight loss accomplishment brought her new-found confidence. This meeting invited real opportunity; top executives would be there. She had a chance at the promotion she’d been dreaming of.
She walked into the boardroom, glowing in her new size-eight trousers, but soon things began to go south. Deonetti’s proposal was all wrong. The client seemed restless.
“Mr. Dean,” Leon said. “I can see now that you’re looking for a sexier
plan. Tess, hand me the second proposal.”
Tess stared at her boss and felt the pink drain from her face. “I’m afraid I left that paperwork at home.”
Leon glared and snapped, “If you don’t have the proposal then you’re of no
use to me. You’re dismissed.”
Out of the boardroom, Tess dashed down the hall and into the employee lounge. Tears leaked from the corner of her eyes. “God damn son-of-a-bitch!” She pounded her fist on the table, exhaled through her teeth, and stared at the humming refrigerator. After a quick glance behind her, she pulled the handle and scanned its contents–Chinese take-out, a bottle of salad dressing, old Tupperware. Tucked back on the bottom shelf sat an enormous deli sandwich, a hill of Ruffles, and a fat brownie with a slab of chocolate frosting trowelled over the top. The entire meal was displayed on a paper plate, covered tightly in plastic wrap. On top perched a handwritten note, “Deonetti’s Lunch.”
Tess smirked picturing Leon printing his label like a fourth grader. Of course, things occasionally disappeared from the office refrigerator. Emails would circulate, “Who ate my Yoplait?” “Which bastard drank my Fresca?” But never a whole meal, never someone’s entire lunch, the boss’s lunch. Tess knew she had only a moment or she risked detection. She pulled the plastic away and quickly began to feast. Minutes later, the sandwich was finished, every chip crumb gone. Tess turned to the brownie. Clutching the cake in both hands, she ate the entire square in three bites.
All that remained was a pickle spear. Tess skewered the note with a foil-topped toothpick and planted it in the pickle, which she placed defiantly back in the refrigerator. She rinsed her mouth at the sink and strolled to her cubicle, where she sat and chewed purposefully on a piece of sugar-free gum.
A fellow assistant stopped. “Heard you got hung out to dry at the meeting this morning. Leon’s an asshole. He’s ranting and raving now. Someone ate his lunch.”
“It wasn’t me,” Tess said. “I’m on Atkins.”